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Friday, January 8, 2010

Classroom Summary for January 4-8

Happy New Year to all! Wow. It's 2010 and it seems like just a few months ago it was the beginning of school and January was so far away. Friday was our 76th day of school! Now that we are into the winter of second grade, we are learning concepts that are new and often take a little longer to learn.

In literacy this week the phonics skill we focused on was understanding consonant digraphs. We learned that a consonant digraph is a two-letter combination that only says one sound. An example of some consonant digraphs are ch, sh, th, wh, kn, ck, and wr. Some words can have more than one consonant digraph in them so they can be very tricky to read (e.g. wreck). Our spelling book helped to reinforce that same skill by focusing on the spelling of the /k/ sound with k and ck. We learned that you most often find the ck spelling in the middle or at the end of a word and it is usually next to a short vowel. K can be used at the beginning, middle or end of a word, and is most often used to spell the /k/ sound when a silent e is used. We used our journals this week to make sure we had not forgotten how to write 6-8 sentences about one topic! Some of us need some more review and we will continue to work on our writing skills throughout the month. In reading Sammy's group finished reading and produced a comic strip of A Dog's Best Friend by Gare Thompson. Jack's group finished reading The Person from Planet X and began reading Red-Eyed Tree Frog, both by Joy Cowley. Keith's group finished reading How the Rattlesnake Got Its Rattle by Jeffrey Stoodt. Julia's group began working with story summaries by writing a story grammar marker independently and creating a written retell by transferring story elements from the story grammar marker.

In math this week we finished up our unit on Shapes, Blocks and Symmetry and began work on a new unit called Stickers, Number Strings and Story Problems. We know that symmetry is all around us everywhere we look. You know something is symmetrical when you can draw an imaginary line down the middle of it and one side is the mirror-image of the other side. We also learned that we can add more than two numbers together and it doesn't matter which addends we add together first. We practiced proving that order doesn't matter by adding 3 numbers together in many different ways. At number corner time, we did some work with fractions. We know that the word fraction means a part or a piece of a whole. In math, a fraction is a number that represents an EQUAL part of a whole. An example of a fraction is 1/2, 1/3 or 1/4. The line that separates the two numerals you see really means "out of". You can read this fraction several ways: "one half," "a half," "half," or "one out of two."

Next week in science and social studies we will begin two new units. In science we will begin a short unit on water and its properties. In social studies we will learn about Martin Luther King, Jr. and his contribution to American history. We will begin a unit on India shortly thereafter.

This month in writing we will be learning to write a formal paragraph. We will understand the different purposes of topic sentences and detail sentences. When the children are comfortable with their new skillset, I will change the homework assignment on Tuesdays from writing spelling sentences in a list format to writing spelling sentences in a paragraph format. I will notify you when we are ready to make that transition!

Over the next few months we will be making another big transition in math. We will be progressing from adding and subtracting single digit numbers to adding and subtracting double digit numbers. Please understand that the process of understanding place value is a slow and methodical process. Before we teach the algorithm of carrying and borrowing (which we now call trading and regrouping respectively) it is important that we do a lot of practice work with ones, tens and hundreds. We will be working with larger numbers, taking them apart and putting them back together to see how tens and ones work within them. Once we see how individual numbers contain those groups, then we will begin the task of adding or subtracting them with other numbers. The algorithms will not be introduced until AFTER we have worked concretely with many numbers over several weeks. Eventually, the goal is that each child, in his own time, will discover the algorithm as just another strategy that he/she can use when solving computational problems. At times it will be more time efficient to work a problem mentally and other times it will be more time efficient to work a problem out on paper with "ten sticks" or "stickers" or "leftovers". Please don't fret if some of the vocabulary your child uses does not sound familiar to you. :) Working together, with patience and understanding, we can help your child become successful with place value.

Lastly, I would just like to reiterate my thanks to our room parents Mrs. Shahid and Mrs. Perino for all their work with our holiday party. Thank you to all the families who contributed to my class gift. Your generosity was amazing. The donations for our party were incredibly yummy and requests for seconds were frequently heard. :) The children had a wonderful time and had quite the cha-cha line around the room!

Best wishes for the new year and as always, thank you for all you do to encourage quality education at home as well as at school.

Miss Varrell :)

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